'Might look at it': League boss' big call on State of Origin change

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured here, the NSW Blues celebrate after winning the 2019 State of Origin shield.
The NSW Blues go into the new-look 2020 Origin series as the defending champions. Pic: AAP

Rugby League boss Peter V'landys has kept the door open for the State of Origin series to remain an end-of-season spectacle.

The ARL Commission chairman says he expects Origin to revert back to its traditional mid-season slot next year.

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However, V'landys conceded that a change would be considered if this year's three-match series - played over consecutive Wednesdays in November - is an overwhelming success.

"We'll just wait and see how successful it is as a stand alone," V'landys said.

"We made it a stand alone for the integrity of the competition. If you took your best players out mid-season it could have affected teams.

"Because it was going to be five less rounds we wanted to make sure every team had every opportunity to make the top eight.

"That's why we made the decision, but if it's a runaway success we might look at it again.

"At this stage it will go back to mid-season. But in anything you do you have to have an open mind and be agile."

This year's end-of-season Origin series is the first of its kind, with next Wednesday's opener to kick off three games inside 15 days.

The placement of next year's series is likely to remain a talking point throughout, as the NRL begin planning their 2021 schedule amid the hopeful emergence out of COVID-19.

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There are obvious benefits of holding the series at the end of the season, with no mid-year disruption to NRL clubs missing their biggest stars.

The bonus of having players available for every round of the regular season is a big plus for the end-of-year series, as well as the chance for bigger crowds this year.

Wayne Bennett and Mal Meninga are seen here addressing Maroons player at their 2020 training camp.
New Maroons coach Wayne Bennett and Qld legend Mal Meninga are trying to mastermind a 2020 series win for the underdogs. Pic: Getty

Television ratings will, however, be a telling factor as well as challenges around player availability with Tom Trbojevic, David Fifita, Kotoni Staggs and Kalyn Ponga among those out.

On the flip side, player welfare would be among the biggest concerns about permanently holding State of Origin at the end of the season, when players are often carrying injuries after a taxing 26 rounds of footy..

The NRL is still working through what next year will look like.

It's hoped when the first players return to training at the end of next month bubble conditions won't be as strict and relative freedom is allowed.

"We've got the benefit of a lot of learning from 2020 for what did and didn't work," CEO Andrew Abdo said.

"So going into next year, even with restrictions and protocols, we'll be able to do things in a much more sustainable way.

"Obviously we're very hopeful we'll have a vaccine or therapies available that almost eliminate this from the community.

"But we'll be ready for whatever 2021 brings."

with AAP

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